It is very important to learn the secrets of increasing productivity. Time is the most valuable asset in this life. Proper utilization of time (or this asset) you can get any other asset in this life (or even after life!).
In this short post, I will highlight only one tip and a thought about productivity. Yes, only one idea – this is enough if we understand and apply it.
First let me introduce a nice and profound definition of productivity: Productivity = Value/ Time. Notice the VALUE term. It is important that you produce value and not just producing efforts, consuming time, or actions without real value.
I want to highlight a thought about illusion of multitasking. A misleading idea that if you want to increase your productivity is to be a multitasking processor. In other words, you need to carry out multiple tasks at same time. Surf the net, read an article, listen to music, and have a discussion with your kids. With all of these activities you feel (or imagine) that you have a high productivity. Unfortunately, you are not adding a value in any of these tasks.
Although human brain has the capability of considering several dimensions at the same time for a specific subject. The magic number of dimensions is ranging between 5 and 9 (it is 7 plus or minus +/-2) as mentioned by psychology science. This is applied for a single task with several objects and considerations.
The reality is that you need to be single-minded and focusing on specific task. Here the skill of prioritizing tasks comes to the picture. Proper prioritization and estimation of task duration is crucial for increasing productivity.
If we recall how operating systems work to carry out multitasking, several algorithms exist that rely on task (or program) preemption. Where the processor executes portions of programs and switch to another program to execute another portion and so on. Then it returns back to the first one in a round robin fashion across those programs. This gives the feeling (for users) that computer runs executing several programs at same time.
Some version of preemption algorithms starts and finalizes shortest tasks first based on estimated execution duration. Other algorithms allocate specific time quota for each program based on their priorities and processor spent this pre-allocated time executing each program. (Please do not confuse this with parallel processing which is another story!)
Applying these concepts with your brain, you can simulate the multitasking. Be careful that the difference between processor and your mind is the speed of switching time and setup required between tasks. Processor just uploads the program code into memory, adjust its instruction pointers and registers and resume execution. However, your brain needs to recall the context of the task and consider current state before resumption. In all cases, you need to focus on one task with full mind attention. This is much more productive than the illusion of carrying multiple tasks at same time.
Let me summarize the technique of multitasking in few bullets:
1- Set priorities to your tasks,
2- Classify tasks into the quadrant of (Important Not Important and Urgent Not Urgent),
3- Start with tasks in square of Urgent Important (since they are not questionable and cannot be delegated),
4- Try to delegate Urgent Not Important tasks (if possible) or do it yourself,
5- Estimate duration of each task in the square (Important Not Urgent)
6- Eliminate or delegate the tasks in square (Not Important Not Urgent),
7- Focus on the urgent and important tasks one at a time,
8- Sharpen your skills of switching between tasks (this is a key differentiator between one person and another – remember processor efficiency in doing that). How fast and still-focused you can switch between tasks, determines your productivity and your speed.
I hope this helps.